The season of giving

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan Marketing and Communications Director Christine Hitch, left, and Executive Director Patrick Heraghty process donations that came in the mail Thursday. Hitch said more people make donations during the holidays than any other time of the year.

The holiday season is a time when people are compelled to give of themselves for the sake of others, and do it in a variety of ways.

Some purchase presents for those who can’t afford them, others donate to community causes and some do volunteer work as a way to give back.

During the holidays Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan sees a large spike in the amount of money people donate to local causes. According to Marketing and Communications Director Christine Hitch, from late November until Dec.31 donations come in the mail daily and the amount of money adds up quickly.

“We see a significant increase and our stacks of mail get quite a bit larger,” Hitch said. “Generally, Giving Tuesday kicks off the holiday giving season and this year we received $120,000 in one day. Things then pick up at the end of the year.

Hitch said the foundation has about 500 different charitable funds set up that range from education, arts and humanity needs, Huron Humane Society and everything in between

“Whatever a person holds close to their heart they will be able to find the need that fits it,” Hitch said.”

Isabella Bauer said she doesn’t have a lot of family to buy presents for so she finds other ways to put her money to good work.

She said she buys toys for children and puts them in the drop boxs scattered around the area in local stores. The toys are used for the Vietnam Vets Toys for Kids program. She said she also donates to the Salvation Army and her church.

“Christmas is about giving,” Bauer said. “Look what we were given on Christmas. We were given the birth of our savior and I think that should be a reminder of why it is important to help others.”

There are many charitable causes in Northeast Michigan, each trying to collect as many presents or as much money as possible to support their causes and initiatives.

Debra Smalley said deciding where to donate her money is difficult, but she makes sure to spread around what she does have. She said there are so many good causes, especially during the holidays, that it is hard to choose who to donate to each year.

“I wish I could just give them all something because they all deserve it,” Smalley said. “I usually make several donations and mix up who they are going to each year.”

Smalley didn’t say who she had donated to because she doesn’t want to be put in the spotlight for doing something kind for strangers.

“We all should do something nice for someone during Christmas, and not expect anything in return,” she said. “I don’t think anyone should be applauded for trying to help others and to brighten their holiday.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews